Research perspectives

Prison disciplinary record revealed

The Guardian newspaper has found that nearly 2,700 prison staff in England and Wales were disciplined between 2013 and 2018. Data from a Freedom of Information request revealed that more than a third of prison workers disciplined (36%) came as a result of security breaches, including bringing mobile phones or drugs into prisons. Other misconduct among staff included assault or unnecessary use of force against prisoners, for which 204 workers were disciplined, inappropriate relationships with prisoners (64), racial harassment (19) and trafficking (28). There was also action over abusive language, sexual harassment and being unfit for work due to alcohol or drug misuse.

The disciplinary action resulted from almost 6,600 investigations into misconduct between mid-2013 and mid-2018. A total of 567 officers were dismissed in the same period, 84 for breach of security, 68 for assault or unnecessary use of force and 39 for an inappropriate relationship with a prisoner.

The MoJ said “The vast majority of prison officers and other staff carry out their duties to the high standards the public rightly expect, but the small minority who fall short of those standards are held to account. Allegations of inappropriate behaviour, though rare, are taken extremely seriously and are immediately investigated. We do not hesitate to take action where there is evidence of misconduct.”